PdC third grader directs her compassion toward buddy benches

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Mickenzie Dahl, 9, of Prairie du Chien, sold nearly 400 suckers at a quarter apiece over the course of the four-hour Valentine’s Day dance at Bluff View Feb. 12. She brought in $92 and is now averaging about $20 a week in sucker sales toward her fundraiser for buddy benches to be installed at Bluff View and B.A. Kennedy schools. (Submitted photo)

By Correne Martin

A 9-year-old Prairie du Chien student is passionate about anti-bullying. Her belief: always take the nice path.

Mickenzie Dahl, a third grader at Bluff View Intermediate School, is actively trying to raise money, and has collected about $1,500, toward purchasing two buddy benches for the Bluff View and B.A. Kennedy Elementary School playgrounds.

A buddy bench creates a safe spot for shy classmates to signify that they want to partake in playground activities, that they’ve been bullied or that they’re upset and would like a friend. The concept is simple; a buddy bench provides a more inclusive environment within the school community.

Mickenzie’s venture started several weeks ago when her mom, Serena Lindner, noticed she had written some personal thoughts about bullying on their home computer. They said, in part:

“Don’t you want more kids to become themselves. Cause more kids are not. Please do not bully because it will hurt you in the future, and it also hurts the person that you are bullying. Please do not call people names and do not hurt them. Do not laugh at people because they’re different. If you’re one of the bullies, please stop. Cause it will lower people’s self-esteem. Cause you will always regret it. Cause you don’t want those people to change because they’re already great. And you hurt yourself. Time goes by fast, don’t waste it for something bad. ... Always take the nice path. Cause it is the right way.”

“She came up with all this on her own. She’s a kind-hearted little girl,” Serena noted.

Around the same time, Mickenzie’s grandma, Anna Mae Lessard, told her granddaughter about the idea of a buddy bench. Immediately, Mickenzie began asking her mom how she could go about getting one for her school.

From there, Mickenzie decided she wanted to sell suckers as a way to fundraise for a bench to be installed at each of the schools. Principal Aaron Amundson and the district’s parent-teacher organization have gotten behind her efforts. She has also received help from her older brother Breyden Muntz, 13, her grandparents Randy and Kelly Lindner, as well as other family and friends.

On Feb. 12, Mickenzie and her brother set up a sucker stand at the PTO-sponsored Valentine’s Day dance. There, she sold $92 in suckers—at a quarter a piece for large ones and two for a quarter for small ones. In total, she sold nearly 400 suckers at the dance. Since then, she’s raked in an average of $20 a week in sucker sales.

In March, Mickenzie is going to start selling anti-bullying bracelets too, as another way to spread her compassionate message. The PTO, which has already given a large donation toward the buddy benches, has discussed a possible student bingo night next month, which would also benefit the buddy bench fund.

“At first, she was really excited. Now, she can’t wait for the final outcome,” Serena said. “She’s been bullied this year in her grade and she’s just taking a stand against bullying. She’s always been very outspoken.”

According to Mickenzie’s mom, she is in the process of determining where to purchase the buddy benches. She has contacted local businesses that might be able to make them before seeking out other options. She estimates the cost being around $1,000 per bench. Of course, they will be cemented onto each playground, and Mickenzie intends to put her handprint and name in the cement by the benches, as a way of leaving her mark on this impactful project that she’s helping bring to the schools.

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